The King, The Prince, The Diva
Aamir Khan, Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone have nothing in common at the surface. Yet, they are each laced with the spirit and the foresight to bring change and make a difference, writes Shubarna Mukerji Shu.
Every once in a while, some individuals come along who disarm every assumption made about them, disregard every fundamental rule ever made… and break every record set to excel in a way that very few, if any, can… They are the torchbearers for a better tomorrow. In filmdom today, their names are Aamir Khan, Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone. We are not discounting the achievements of the contemporaries of the aforementioned trio, yet none can refute the grace with which these three actors have paved their careers, each choosing a path others have dodged as treacherous.
Next - Aamir Khan
He has been one of the Khan trio, which has been ruling this industry since their debut in the ’80s, and yet he hasn’t been like any other Hindi film actor. To start from the very beginning, Aamir Khan’s modus operandi itself got him the eyeballs, the applause and sometimes even the snickers. What’s he thinking shaving his head for a film, growing a moustache for the other? Given most of his competition were hamming their way to success, it was certainly not a requisite to be a Number One actor in the industry. And yet, he felt the need to ace his talent with hard work. And he kept on with it, without any outward encouragement. He relentlessly kept sculpting his need for perfection into perfection while his name was persistently overlooked at most awards, which favoured the more media-friendly actors. Yet his conspicuous absence only added to his public image and, inherently, to his own character. Till date, he remains a star who doesn’t work for awards. His rewards are each and every salute he takes home.
The respect he gets as a performer is not enjoyed by other actors… simply because he takes the effort to live his part and not just play his part. This Padma Bhushan awardee’s diligence cannot be encumbered. While most wanted to star in as many films as their dates could allow, Aamir started the one-film-at-a-time trend, which has now been blatantly incorporated by many young actors as the mantra to success. What needs to be applauded is the fact that he started the ‘trend’ when television was not pouring shows on film stars every hour and every other brand had not signed up actors making them a household commodity. Without a film release an actor could very easily be out of sight and out of mind. But insecurity is something he doesn’t experience as a performer, and therein lies his power, besides of course, his acute execution of plans and strategy which is his foremost strength. He doesn’t talk big, he does it.
When Rajkumar Hirani approached the 40-year-old actor to play the lead college student in his film, 3 IDIOTS he admitted he didn’t know how it would all work out but he believed, “Aamir would work towards making it look convincing!” Similarly today, YRF has had Aamir Khan, who isn’t known much for his agility, to transform himself into a trapeze gymnast in DHOOM: 3… The resultant success might be the cherry on the cake, but what needs to be acknowledged is Aamir’s persistent work in convincing his audience! Kudos! And this is just Aamir the actor; there are many new directors and a whole breed of cinema-goers who owe his productions a lot of gratitude. All said and done about their tussle, Amol Gupte admits, “Had it not been for Aamir, TAARE ZAMEEN PAR would not have seen the light of day!” Neither would perhaps a DELHI BELLY, PEEPLI: LIVE, DHOBI GHAT or SHIP OF THESEUS and many more…
Aamir, the actor and the producer, has been revered by all thanks to his acumen to make movies that speak to you. He feels responsible for the quality of movies we make and that shows. However, it is his marketing side that gives contemporaries the heebie-jeebies… Styling the theatre staff with GHAJINI hair-styles at a competitor’s screening or going laapata for 3 IDIOTS - Aamir does it with élan! His television stint, for instance, was quite unlike that of his colleagues’. Like A R Rahman said, “He uses his gifts as a charmer to give his audience the most bitter medicine. Hypnotised, we take it without complaint. That’s Aamir’s magic at work.”
Be it promoting weavers whilst promoting his film, or talking about a Salman Khan during his film launch to give media fodder, breaking clean from his marriage and walking the aisle with his next… surrogacy and more… Aamir says it honestly and thus, unapologetically. “It is a fact that I have not done anything different, I merely try to do things differently!” And that, friends, is the essence of being Aamir Khan – movie maestro, maverick!
Next - Ranbir Kapoor
“When Ayan (Mukerji) told me he wanted to take the script of WAKE UP SID to Ranbir Kapoor, I told him he was wasting his time. For, someone making movies like SAAWARIYA and BACHNA AE HASEENO would not be interested in doing a slice of life kind of film. However, at Ayan’s insistence we went,” recalled Karan Johar who has worked closely with Ranbir with films like WAKE UP SID and YEH JAWANI HAI DEEWANI. “I saw a spark in his eyes as he was listening to the narration, I could see it in his eyes that he saw merit in doing the film, beyond just being a part of a good script/ film. That day, I saluted him for his foresight.” What makes Ranbir Kapoor different from all the other actors today is that he doesn’t bother trying to be flavour of the month – his aim is far more lasting…
He has been unanimously crowned Prince of Bollywood, and credit for the title goes not to his lineage, but to the work he has put in. Around 10 films in 6 years, and Ranbir Kapoor is on par with the two decade-long careers of the Khans. There hasn’t been any other actor, post the Khans, who has managed to rule the roost so effectively and so quickly. “There was a time when only Amitabh Bachchan films were a hit at the box office, and the only other actor who gave equally big hits was Rishi Kapoor!” said Aamir Khan, thus explaining the spirit in the genes of the Kapoor. They strive to be the best, and the others merely have to accept their supremacy in the film industry…
Be it charming the ladies (no point going into details here!) or ruling the overseas market (going a step further from the SRK-reign, RK, like his grandfather, is also tapping the Russian market), first day collections (his has been on par with Salman Khan films) or respect from his peers (Aamir Khan and his nephew, Imran Khan are self-proclaimed fans) Ranbir Kapoor has a credible record everywhere… simply because he hasn’t restricted himself as a performer. He oscillates between being an actor and a star, effortlessly. Choosing to act, garbed as a bearded-turbaned sardar in ROCKET SINGH, when he was touted as being the hottest guy on the block, and a charmer with the ladies, is not just luck, it is completely well-executed strategy. Despite its unsuccessful play at the box office, ROCKET SINGH delivered what he had set out to do: make his mark as a serious actor...though being a star and a charmer comes equally easy to the boy. His films like ROCKSTAR and BARFI reinstate the credentials Ranbir enjoys as a performer. What Aamir set out to do, Ranbir implemented – same old job, but a different attitude. He doesn’t play hard at wanting to be perceived as a serious actor who would do away with the frills of stardom; he wants to enjoy the best of both worlds. He likes his fast cars and pretty girls and yet, he is working without prejudice most of the time. And working hard. The Libran man has managed thus far to enjoy accolades, applause and admiration not just from his fans but also his peers, no easy feat given the short span of time he has achieved it all, and yet he makes it look like an effortless merry jaunt. It is evident, he is not waiting to reign tomorrow, he is sweeping today off its feet too!
Next - Deepika Padukone
Deepika Padukone This article first appeared in January 2014 issue of Cine Blitz magazine
“Deepika Padukone is the sexiest woman on earth? Are you kidding me? She would not win a Miss Dombivali contest. I mean, look at her closely. Go-on jawline? Too wide, eyes? Bulging. Hairline? Untidy, speech? Verni.” These were the words of Shobha De about Deepika Padukone a few years ago when she was termed the Sexiest Girl In Showbiz. Her acting was criticised by some of her own directors. No one had thought the socially shy, complete outsider to the industry, and seemingly challenged around its ways, Deepika Padukone would ever make it as a successful actress. And yet, six years later, Deepika has turned all the criticism around and completely stunned not only the critics but also her competitors. Partially they were right… she never stuck to being a mere successful actress, she has turned out to be a sensation.
While the media is graciously eating its words, congratulating her on the achievements and growth as a performer, she is merely ticking off things on her wishlist and getting bigger with each step, “Post OM SHANTI OM, a lot of stuff got written about me. All of it wasn’t always nice,” recalls Deepika. “In fact, there was this critic who loved pulling people down. And she wrote very critically about all of us who had made a debut that year. But I didn’t let it upset me. I cut that column out, highlighted what she had said about me and looked at it every day. I used negativity to work harder and improve whatever I could.” Her eyes have never left the goal, or so it seems….
Known for setting benchmarks for herself, Deepika is now best known for achieving them. Yes, she might have had her limitations - and certainly still does - but managing her way around them, has been her victory. “When I saw COCKTAIL I had told Saif, seeing Deepika’s breakdown scene, she completely steals the show!” admitted Kareena Kapoor Khan, graciously. You cannot take credit away from Deepika no matter how grudgingly you pay it. “She can be counted in the heroes’ league,” says trade analyst Taran Adarsh.
Her USP is her perfect packaging - a great body, pretty face, immaculate grace and a complete deaf-ear to those who are trying to pull her down. Perhaps she is right in owing her success to her sports background - she certainly does owe her fabulously lissome body and agility to it - but it is her attitude towards her career that speaks of her sportsman spirit. She quietly lets her seniors take centrestage at promotions but is equally astute at not bothering with seniority when it comes to delivering the blow on camera. Her transformation is a work of well-tutored perfection. It doesn’t come naturally to her, but she is quick at learning the craft. Of course, her willingness to work hard often supports her cause. How else can one girl ensure she is perfectly garbed, immaculately poised and slowly trying to weave her way with words too? The girl is slowly and surely turning herself into a delectable brand. Thus, her being the highest paid actress doesn’t come as a surprise, after all how many stars could claim to have five super hit films back-to-back! “I had thought Sanjay Leela Bhansali just saw me as a pretty girl, not much of a performer. When on the last day he thanked me for doing justice to Leela, I broke down,” said Deepika with an overwhelming sense of accomplishment. More power, girl; here’s to Deepika’s undeterred passion for conquest.
This article first appeared in January 2014 issue of Cine Blitz magazine